National Science Foundation
Funding Opportunities and
Grant-writing Tips for Social, Behavioral,
and Economic Scientists
Mark L. Weiss
Division Director
Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and
Economic Sciences
Wayne State University Oct. 14th, 2010
4201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Virginia
• Basics of the National Science Foundation
– SBE’s place in the hierarchy
• Opportunities for support of SBE research
– Core Programs
• Special competitions
• Points to remember as you think/write
NSF in a Nutshell
• Independent Agency
• Supports BASIC
• Uses grant mechanism
• Discipline-based
structure but changing
• Cross-disciplinary
• Use of Rotators/IPAs
• Low overhead; highly
• National Science Board
National Science Foundation
National Science
Deputy Director
Staff Offices
Computer &
& Engineering
& Economic
& Human
Budget, Finance &
Award Management
& Physical
National Science Foundation
Office of the Director
Directorate for Social,
Behavioral & Economic Sciences
Social and Economic
Behavioral and Cognitive
Office of
Science Resources
What we Support at NSF
NSF supports basic research
across all fields of science,
NSF does not support
applied research, such as:
• Social Sciences
• Behavioral & Cognitive
• Chemical sciences
• Computer and information
• Engineering
• Geological sciences
• Life sciences
• Mathematical sciences
• Physics and astronomy
Clinical research
Social work
Practice-oriented professional
degree programs
Behavioral and Cognitive
Sciences Division
…supports research to develop and advance
scientific knowledge about humans spanning
areas of inquiry including brain and behavior,
language and culture, origins and evolution,
and geography and the environment.
Social and Economic
Sciences Division
…seeks to enhance our understanding of
human, social and organizational behavior by
building social science infrastructure, by
developing social disciplinary and
interdisciplinary research projects that advance
knowledge in the social and economic sciences.
Social, Behavioral & Economic
Sciences Programs
• Cultural Anthropology
• Physical Anthropology
• Archaeology
• Linguistics
• Social Psychology
• Economics
• Sociology
• Political Science
Cognitive Neuroscience
Developmental & Learning Sciences
Documenting Endangered Languages
Perception, Action & Cognition
Geography & Spatial Sciences
Environmental, Social & Behavioral Science
Decision, Risk & Management Sciences
Science of Science & Innovation Policy
Innovation & Organizational Sciences
Methodology, Measurement & Statistics
Science & Society
Law & Social Sciences
Producing the Report
SBE Research in the
Federal Context
Signed January 2009
Printed/Distributed April 2009
Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences
Joint Funding
Joint-Funded Programs
Funding Partners
• Cognitive Neuroscience
• Ecology of Infectious Disease
• Dynamics of Coupled Natural
& Human Systems (CNH)
• Nanotech & Society
• Cyber-enabled Discovery
& Innovation (CDI)
• US Forest Service
• Cyberinfrastructure
• DoD
• National Security, Conflict,
• NSF-Wide Initiatives
SBE 2020: Future Research in the Social,
Behavioral & Economic Sciences
• Frame innovative research for the year 2020 that will enhance
fundamental knowledge and benefits society in many ways.
Insights to inform and enable:
• Substance, capacity, and infrastructure
• Increasingly interdisciplinary and international research
• Many perspectives, intellectual frameworks, scales, contexts,
approaches and methodologies
Invited white papers outlining grand challenge questions that are both
foundational and transformative.
• Foundational: reflect deep issues that engage fundamental
assumptions behind disciplinary research traditions
• Transformative: leverage current findings to unlock a new cycle of
Results will be analyzed and discussed in many forums
Where to start?
• Check awards by program, keyword, etc.
• Read solicitation carefully (if not unsolicited
• Download (and read!) Grant Proposal Guide
• Think about scale and budget
Paths to SBE Support
Standing Program Senior Proposals
CAREER Proposals
Student Support
Dear Colleague Letters
Special Solicitations
Paths to SBE Support
Standing Program Senior Research
Division for Social & Economic Sciences
FY10 Program Allocations (millions of dollars)
Decision, Risk, & Management Sciences
Innovation and Organizational Sciences
Law and Social Science
Methodology, Measurement & Statistics
Political Science
Science and Society
Paths to SBE Support
Standing Program Senior Research
Division for Behavioral & Cognitive Sciences
FY10 Program Allocations (millions of dollars)
Archaeology & Archaeometry
Cultural Anthropology
Cognitive Neuroscience
Developmental & Learning Sciences
Geography & Spatial Sciences
Documenting Endangered Languages
Perception, Action, & Cognition
Physical Anthropology
Social Psychology
Paths to SBE Support
Standing Program Senior Research
Division Funding Rates (FY10)
Behavioral & Cognitive Sciences
Proposal Actions
Funding Rate
Social & Economic Sciences
Proposal Actions
Funding Rate
Paths to SBE Support
CAREER Proposals
CAREER Solicitation (NSF 08-557)
Available in all NSF programs
Untenured faculty (or comparable)
Single scholar award
$400,000, 5-years minimum award
Three proposals lifetime limit
Mid to late July deadline (varies by discipline and year)
High Prestige/High Expectations
Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and
Engineers (PECASE)
Paths to SBE Support
Student Support
Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants
• Available in some SBE programs
• Small grants for dissertation research
• Archaeology
• Cultural Anthropology
• Geography & Spatial
• Linguistics
• Physical Anthropology
• Law and Social Science
• Decision, Risk, &
Management Science
• Economics
• Law and Social Science
• Political Science
• Science and Society
• Sociology
Paths to SBE Support
Student Support
Research Experiences for Undergraduates
• Available in all programs
• Two types of awards
- REU Supplements: Awards added onto senior awards to
sponsor undergraduate student research
- REU Sites: training programs, often in the summer
months, for teaching research methods to undergrads
- RET (Research Experiences for Teachers): Gives K – 12
teachers experience in research in coordination with REU
Paths to SBE Support
Internal Merit Review
Early-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER)
Exploratory work on untested, potentially transformative ideas
High-risk, high-potential payoff
$300,000 maximum; 2 years
Eight page description
Internal review required/ external optional
Contact program officer first
Paths to SBE Support
Internal Merit Review
Grants for Rapid Response Research (RAPID)
Research when data are ephemeral
$200,000 maximum; 1 year
5 page project description
Internal review required; external optional
Available in all programs
Contact program officer first
For proposals having a severe urgency with regard to availability
of, or access to data, facilities or specialized equipment,
including quick-response research on natural or anthropogenic
disasters and similar unanticipated events
Paths to SBE Support
Dear Colleague Letter
Dear Colleague Letters
• Official requests for research proposals on specific topics
• Often cross-disciplinary, applicable to a number of programs
Dear Colleague Letter: for Creating New Cyberenabled Data on Innovation in Organizations
Dear Colleague Letter for Social, Behavioral, and
Economic Research Related to the Gulf Oil Spill
and Other Disasters
Paths to SBE Support
Special Solicitations
Special Solicitations
• Funding in targeted areas
• Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH)
• Science of Science and Innovation Policy (SciSIP)
• Ecology of Infectious Disease
Paths to SBE Support
As you think and write:
Remember Two Funding Criteria
• Intellectual Merit
• Broader Impacts
Official review criteria
NSF has two overarching review
Intellectual Merit
• Importance
• Qualifications
• Creativity & originality
• Transformational?
• Conception and
• Access to resources
Broader Impacts
• Training
• Diversity
• Infrastructure
• Dissemination/
Public Awareness
• Societal Benefits
What’s included in a
competitive project description?
• Interesting, researchable mystery.
• Lit review: Why is it a mystery? What don’t we
know? Why do we care? Contribution to theory?
• How will you go about solving the mystery?
• What kind of data do you need?
• How will you collect it? Why those methods?
• How will you use that data to get an answer?
• Analysis!
• Why are you qualified?
• Broader impacts!
Broader Impacts
• Promote teaching, training and learning
• Broaden the participation of underrepresented groups
(e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)
• Enhance the infrastructure for research and education,
such as facilities, instrumentation, networks and
• Disseminate results broadly to enhance scientific and
technological understanding
• Benefit society
Interdisciplinary Research
a mode of research by teams or individuals
integrates information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts,
and/or theories from two or more research areas
advances fundamental understanding or tries to solve problems whose
solutions are beyond the scope of a area of research
Sources of Support
Co - Review
Solicited Interdisciplinary Programs
Areas of National Importance
Center Competitions
Unsolicited Interdisciplinary Proposals
Education and Training
Workshops, Conferences, and Symposiums
Proposal Process
Returned as Inappropriate/Withdrawn
via DGA
of 3
Officer Analysis
Ad hoc
NSF Program
Research &
Proposal received by NSF
Proposal Preparation Time
4 months
Review of Proposal
P.O. Recommend
Div. Dir. Concur
30 days
DGA Review &
Processing of Award
Data Management Plan
• All proposals must describe plans for data management and
• Fastlane will not allow submission of a proposal missing a plan.
• Plan is reviewed as part of the intellectual merit or broader
Postdoctoral Mentoring Plan
• If request money for a postdoc, must have plan as
supplementary doc (1 page)
NSF Sources of Reviewers
Investigator’s suggestions
Program Officer’s knowledge
References listed in the proposal
Community of Science and other databases
Reviewer’s recommendations
What Reviewers Think About
Engaging & focused from the beginning
Important and original topic
Doesn’t short either context or methods
Explains methods, not a laundry list
Methods match question
Includes data analysis plan
Well-prepared researcher (language skills,
experience, background)
• Proposal reads easily, no typos, no jargon
• Inclusive & up-to-date references cited
doesn’t drive decision but…
• Amounts
– Reasonable for work -- Realistic
– Well Justified -- Need established
– In-line with program guidelines
• Eligible costs
– Personnel
– Equipment
– Travel
– Other Direct Costs, Subawards
– Facilities & Administrative Costs
Funding Decisions
• Program Officer recommendation with:
– advice from panel
– input from ad-hoc reviews
• Feedback to PI
• Informal and formal notification
• Scope of work and budget discussions
– (We WILL talk to you about modifications)
Human Subjects
• No award for a project involving human
subjects can be made without prior
Institutional Review Board (IRB)
approval/exemption of the research activity.
• IRB approval is not needed at the time of
proposal submission.
Myths about NSF
• Only funds scholars at elite graduate
• Only funds “famous” academics
• Once declined, you are likely always to be
• Only funds “normal science”
• Advisory panels make funding decisions
Some Common
Reasons for Declinations
• “Trust-me” proposal
• Not feasible
– Expertise gaps
– Insufficient funding
– Too ambitious
• Purely descriptive, not theory-based
Useful to submit a credible proposal,
even if ultimately declined
Revise and resubmit
Discover other funding sources
Forces thinking
Build relationships
Receive reviews from experts
• Learn to get beyond rejection
• Team up
– Collaborate
– Ask colleagues to comment on proposals
• E-mail or call Program Officer with specific
• Encourage dissertation improvement grant
proposals (check program first)
More Tips
• Give yourself plenty of time
– Don't expect to be successful by "throwing
something together at the last minute.“
• Consider theoretical foundations and
prospective theoretical contributions.
• Read Solicitations, GPG etc.
• Learn how proposals will be evaluated; Think
like those who will review and make decisions
• Talk to Program Officers
Examples of funded projects?
NSF makes basic information available to the
public: name of the investigator, organization
receiving award, the award title and abstract,
and the amount awarded to date.
• Link at bottom of each funding program’s
web site that reads “Abstracts of Recent
Awards Made Through This Program”
Contact Mark Weiss
(703) 292-7272
[email protected]
Program Information
• The following slides are for your reference
• They provide a brief sense of SBE Program and
Program Officer names.
• Word to the Wise:
– Dates, names etc change. Double check on
Division of Social and
Economic Sciences (SES)
• Supports research to develop and advance
scientific knowledge focusing on economic,
legal, political and social systems,
organizations, and institutions
• Supports research on the intellectual and
social contexts that govern the development
and use of science and technology
SES Target/Deadline Dates
(DDIGs may differ)
January 15 & August 15
Law and Social Science
Political Science
January 16 & August 16
Methodology, Measurement, and Statistics
January 18 & August 18
Decision, Risk, & Management Sciences
February 1 & August 1
Science and Society
February 2 & September 3
Innovation and Organizational Sciences
Decision, Risk,
and Management Sciences
• Supports research that explores fundamental issues
in judgment and decision making, risk analysis,
management science, and organizational behavior
• Research must be relevant to an operational or
applied context, grounded in theory, and based on
empirical observation or subject to empirical
Program Officers: Robert O’Connor, Jacqueline Meszaros and Jon Leland
• Supports:
– Both empirical and theoretical economic
analysis as well as work on methods for
rigorous research on economic behavior
– Research designed to improve the understanding of the
processes and institutions of the U.S. economy and of the
world system of which it is a part
– Almost all subfields of economics including: econometrics,
economic history, finance, industrial organization,
international economics, labor economics, public finance,
macroeconomics, and mathematical economics
Program Officers: Nancy Lutz, Andrew Feltenstein, Michael Reksulak
Innovation and
Organizational Change
• Supports research which uses theory combined
with empirical validation
• Looks to expand the concepts, models and
methodologies of change in organizations and
• In FY06, IOC is particularly interested in studies
that shed light on how best to organize for
scientific knowledge creation when researchers
must share critical resources, such as major
instruments or IT infrastructure.
Program Officer: Jacqueline Meszaros
Law and Social Science
• Supports social scientific studies of law and law-like
systems of rules, institutions, processes, and behaviors
• Topics can include, but are not limited to
– research designed to enhance the scientific
understanding of the impact of law
– human behavior and interactions as these relate to law
– the dynamics of legal decision making
– the nature, sources, and consequences of variations
and changes in legal institutions
Program Officer: Christian Meissner, Scott Barclay
Methodology, Measurement,
and Statistics
• Seeks proposals that are interdisciplinary in nature,
methodologically innovative, and grounded in
theory, such as:
– Models and methodology for social
and behavioral research
– Statistical methodology/modeling directed
towards the social and behavioral sciences
– Methodological aspects of procedures for data
Program Officer: Cheryl Eavey
Political Science
• Supports scientific research that advances knowledge and
understanding of citizenship, government, and politics
• Substantive areas include, but are not limited to:
American government and politics
comparative government and politics
international relations
political behavior
political economy
political institutions
• Supports Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement
Program Officers: Brian Humes, Carol Mershon
Science, Technology
and Society
S&S considers proposals that examine questions that arise in the
interactions of engineering, science, technology, and society.
There are four components:
Ethics and Values in Science, Engineering and Technology (EVS)
History and Philosophy of Science, Engineering and Technology (HPS)
Social Studies of Science, Engineering and Technology (SSS)
Studies of Policy, Science, Engineering and Technology (SPS)
The components overlap, but are distinguished by the different scientific and scholarly
orientations they take to the subject matter, as well as by different focuses within the subject
Program Officers: Fred Kronz, Kelly Joyce, Michael Gorman
• The Sociology program supports theoretically-grounded research on
systematic patterns of social relationships that examine the causes
and consequences of human behavior, social structure and social
change. Studies range from micro to macro levels of interaction.
• Topics include, but are not limited to:
Stratification, labor markets, mobility, social change
Organizations, networks, economic and workplace change
Crime, delinquency, social organization and social control
Race, ethnicity, social identity/interactions, culture, education
Family, gender, population, migration, immigration
Social movements, political processes, globalization and more
• The Program supports research that uses the range of social science
methodologies — experimental, quantitative, qualitative and the
combinations of multiple methods—for original data collection and
secondary data analysis.
Program Officers: Pat White and Regina Werum
Division of Behavioral and
Cognitive Sciences
• Supports research to develop and advance
scientific knowledge focusing on human
cognition, language, evolution, social
behavior, and culture
• Supports research on the interactions
between human societies and the physical
BCS Target/Deadline Dates
DDIGs may differ
February 1 & August 1
January 24 & August 27
Perception, Cognition and Action
Cognitive Neuroscience
July 1 & December 1
January 15 & July 15
Developmental & Learning Sciences Archaeology
September 15
Documenting Endangered
Social Psychology
January 15 & August 15
Cultural Anthropology
Geography & Spatial Sciences
January 20 and August 20
Physical Anthropology
1. Archaeological research that contributes to an
anthropological understanding of the past
2. Anthropologically significant archaeometric
Program Officer: John Yellen
Cognitive Neuroscience
• Program supports highly innovative and interdisciplinary
• Proposals should aim to advance a rigorous understanding of
how the human brain supports:
• thought
• perception
• affect
• action
• social processes
• and other aspects of cognition and behavior, including
how such processes develop and change in the brain and
through evolutionary time.
Program Officer: Lynne Bernstein
Cultural Anthropology
• Promotes basic scientific research on the causes and
consequences of human social and cultural variation
• Supports social scientific research of theoretical importance in
all theoretical and empirical subfields
– Scholar Award
Program Officer: Deborah Winslow, Susan Penfield, Stephen Langdon
Developmental and
Learning Sciences
• Supports studies that increase our understanding of cognitive, social, and
biological processes related to children and adolescents’ learning in formal
and informal settings
• Supports research on learning and development that:
– incorporates multidisciplinary, multi-method, microgenetic, and
longitudinal approaches
– develops new methods and theories
– examines transfer of knowledge from one domain to another
– assesses peer relations, family interactions, social identities, and
– examines the impact of family, school, and community resources
– assesses adolescents’ preparation for entry into the workforce
– investigates the role of demographic and cultural characteristics in
children’s learning and development
Program Officer: Peter Vishton
Documenting Endangered
• Responds to loss of world’s languages
– Research grants
– Fellowships in partnership with NEH
• Data collection, preparation of grammars &
• Requires creation of archives
• Training & Workshops
Program Officer: Susan Penfield
Geography and Spatial Sciences
• Supports research on human, physical, and biotic
systems on the Earth’s surface, as well as their
related subfields
• Investigations into the nature, causes, and
consequences of human activity within particular
"places and spaces” are encouraged
• Both international & domestic projects which
may contribute to related fields are also funded
Program Officers: Tom Baerwald, Antoinette WinklerPrins &
Ezekiel Kalipeni
Supports scientific research of all types that focus on human
language as an object of investigation
– the syntactic, semantic, phonetic, and phonological properties of
individual languages and of language in general
– the psychological processes involved in the use of language
– the development of linguistic capacities in children
– social and cultural factors in language use, variation, and change
– the acoustics of speech and the physiological and psychological
processes involved in the production and perception of speech
– the biological bases of language in the brain
Program Officer: Joan Maling and Bill Badecker
Perception Action and Cognition
• Supports basic research on human cognitive and perceptual functions
• Topics include, but are not limited to:
– Attention
– Memory
– Spatial Cognition
– Language Processing
– Perceptual and Conceptual Development
– Visual, Auditory, and Tactile Perception
– Reasoning
• Research supported by the program encompasses a broad range of
theoretical perspectives such as Symbolic Computation,
Connectionism, and Dynamical Systems
Program Officer: Betty Tuller and Lawrence Gottlob
Physical Anthropology
• Supports basic research in areas related to:
– Human Evolution
– Anthropological Genetics
– Human Adaptation
– Skeletal Biology
– Primate Biology
– Ecology and Behavior
• Grants are often characterized by:
– An underlying evolutionary framework
– A consideration of adaptation as a central theoretical theme
– Generalizable Results
• Serves as a bridge between the social and behavioral sciences
and the natural and physical sciences
Program Officer: Kaye Reed
Social Psychology
• Supports research on human social behavior, including
cultural differences and development over the life
• Among the many research topics supported are:
– attitude formation and change
– social cognition
– personality processes
– interpersonal relations and group processes
– the psychophysiological correlates
of social behavior
Program Officers: Kellina Craig – Henderson, Brett Pelham
Cross-Directorate Activities
• Serves both divisions – SES and BCS
• Administers and coordinates programs to increase
underrepresented groups in science and engineering
– Research Experiences for Undergraduates
– Minority Postdoctoral Fellowships
• Provides information on cross-Foundation/cross-cutting
Program Officer: Fahmida Chowdhury